Ghana: Her Culture and History.

I have met friends from Ghana, some with little knowledge of this beautiful country. Well, I think I was in this group, until now. So, dear reader, my first question to you is this: What do you know about Ghana? If your answer is next to nothing, then feel free to pay me some 100 bitcoins at the end of this article.

Ghana is one of the 16 nations in West African region, and one of the five Anglophone nations in this region; which include Nigeria, Sierra, Liberia and Gambia. The entire population currently stands at 29.6 million. The country is bordered by three Francophone countries: Burkina Faso, Togo, Cote d’Ivoire; and on the south it shares her border with the Gulf of Guinea. Perhaps, that explains her close affinity with Nigeria.

 

The name Ghana, which means the ‘warrior king’ was bestowed on the nation by its first president: Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah after independence from the British colonial rule on 6th March, 1957. Interestingly, some elderly citizens deem Ghana to be an acronym to: “God Has Appointed Nkrumah Already”- Well I do not share that sentiment.

 

They country is divided into 10 regions: Greater Accra, Central, Eastern, Western, Ashanti, Volta, Brong Ahafo, Northern, Upper East and Upper West. Ghana is regarded as “the gateway to Africa,” and well-known to be a peaceful and democratic country with a stable political system for many years. The slogan on its statutory coat of arms is: “Freedom and Justice.” No wonder!

 

Did you know that the centre of the world lies in the Atlantic Ocean (00, 00)? Did you also know that Ghana is the closest country to the earth’s centre? Yes indeed! Its industrial city: Tema, is located on longitude 00  (the Greenwich Meridian), and on latitude 50 degrees north of the Equator. The city is 555 Km north of the centre of the world. The next closest is Libreville in Gabon, 1110 Km east of the world’s centre. So anytime you think about spinning the world yourself, think about doing that in Ghana. Free advice!

 

There are over 70 ethnic groups, each with its distinct language. English is the official language and lingua franca in Ghana but there are more than 250 languages and dialects spoken in the country. However, some languages belonging to the same ethnic group are mutually intelligible. There are nine government-sponsored languages: Twi (Akan), Dagaare, Dagbani, Dangme, Ewe, Ga, Gonja, Kasem and Nzema (Akan). Five major ethnic groups can be found in Ghana: Akan, Ewe, Ga-Adangbe, Guan and Mole-Dagbon.

 

The Akans constitute about 49% of the total population. They migrated from the old Ghana Empire, travelling between the Black Volta and River Comoe, settled at Techiman, Gyamang and Bono-Manso and later moved to settle on the land between the Pra and Offin rivers. They presently occupy the South-Western part of Ghana. Particularly in the Eastern, Western, Central and Ashanti Regions.

 

The Ewes migrated from Ketu in Benin, settled at Tado in Togo, moved to Notsie (also in Togo) and then finally to Keta, Ho and Kpando in Ghana. They presently occupy the Volta Region.

 

The Ga-Adangbes migrated from Ile-Ife in South-Western Nigeria, travelled by sea and land to settle around the Accra plains and The Volta estuary. They are currently present in the Greater Accra Region.

 

The Mole-Dagbons migrated from the area east of Lake Chad. From there, they moved to Zamfara in Nigeria, then to Mali. From Mali, they came to Ghana and settled at Pusiga. Presently they occupy the Northern Region of Ghana.

 

The Guans were the first to settle in Ghana. They migrated from Burkina Faso. First settled at the present Gonja land at the Northern bank of the Black Volta and finally to Afram Plains, Winneba, Akwapem-Range and parts of the Volta Region. Most of the Guans are at least bilingual; they speak their own language and most likely, the Akan language as well.

 

The Ghanaian people are hospitable and friendly; and have a unique blend of culture. They have some beautiful clothing as well. You’ll love the iconic colourful ‘kente’ clothing.

 

There are three main religions: Christianity, Islam and the Traditional; but these differences have not been barriers to the citizens. It is common to find both Christians and Muslims dwelling in one community. They all live in peace and harmony with each other.

 

Ghanians find great delight in the day of the week a child is born. Tell me on which day of the week you were born, and I will tell you what would most likely be your name (in the Akan language). Here we go! Monday: Kojo (male), Adwoa (female); Tuseday: Kwabena/Abena; Wednesday: Kweku/Akua; Thursday: Yaw/Yaa; Friday: Kofi/Afia; Saturday: Kwame/Ama; and Sunday: Kwesi/Akosua.

I know these names are tongue twisting. But, never mind! You can find solace in the fact that there is a 99% chance a Ghanaian will pronounce them wrongly as well.

 

Someday, I hope to welcome you to Ghana!

Medasse (Thank you)

 

Writer:  Evans Yeboah

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